Courtnie Johnson, BSN, RN, ONC - Charge Nurse, CMH Orthopedic Unit
“Most night shift workers unfortunately get overlooked in recognitions and awards. I’m assuming it is because most of us are sleeping when their day begins. Courtnie is the night shift charge nurse on the orthopedic and surgical floor of Citrus Memorial Hospital (CMH). She’s compassionate, caring, and helpful not only to patients, their families, and staff, but also to others in her community. Her nursing doesn’t stop after her shift ends but continues with phone calls from others with questions. She stops by to check on sick neighbors or friends on her way home after working many hours, before she takes time for herself or to end her hours with rest.
“She enjoys what she does, puts her heart into her work, and most of all has an encouraging word for everyone in her path. She’s dependable, respected, and has never forgotten that even a simple hug can heal wounds when her medical training may not. We may forget many things in life, but we will never forget the one nurse who touched our lives because she cared. Courtnie is that nurse!”
As the nomination above states, night shift nurses often don’t get the recognition they deserve. For Courtnie Johnson, who has worked nights since she became a nurse, it’s the best time for patient care.
“I feel like you get a bit more one-on-one time with patients at night. You don’t have visitors or tests. We can build a rapport with our patients and help them feel comfortable,” she said. “I’ve always worked the night shift. I’m a night owl so it’s easy for me.”
Johnson works from 6 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. on CMH’s orthopedic unit, caring for patients who have had joint replacements, spinal surgeries and other procedures. She has not only always worked nights, she’s always worked on the orthopedic unit.
“We are an orthopedic and spine center of excellence. We get new hip, knee, shoulder, and back surgery patients fresh out of recovery. We assist with early ambulation, pain control, and activities of daily living. We teach them how to modify activities to adjust to a lifestyle with new joints,” she said. “We have a wonderful group of people here – physical therapists who work with patients a few times a day, primary nurses who, each time they are with patients, educate them to ensure a good recovery, and aides who help patients with hygiene and other issues. We can pack a lot of information in the three to four days a patient is with us. We give them our contact information and encourage them to call us with questions.
“I love this floor. I don’t know that I’d want to do anything else,” she said.
As charge nurse, Johnson is responsible for staffing, and ensuring that her patients are safe on the unit. She serves as a resource for her nurses and aides, but also helps throughout the hospital when there is need.
“I respond to different codes and other announcements. I can always answer phones and call lights on other units while those nurses respond to the situation,” she said. “There’s a little less staff at night so it’s nice when we charge nurses can lend a hand.”
Johnson moved to Citrus County from Shelbyville, Tennessee in 2009, after her mother relocated here. She earned her RN from the College of Central Florida in 2014 and began working at CMH. Since then, she has earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and has become certified as an orthopedic nurse. She currently is working on other certifications and a master’s degree in nursing.
“My mom was in the medical field, so I just followed suit,” she said. “I worked as a certified nursing assistant for many years. I loved helping people and thought, ‘you know what? I’m smart. I can do more.’ I haven’t stopped learning since.”
When she’s not working or studying, Johnson spends time with her fiancé and her “fur baby,” a dog she adopted from the shelter. She takes satisfaction and joy from her work.
“I get to see people get better. I can touch a person when they are vulnerable and get a smile,” she said. “It’s not fun being in the hospital. It helps to have someone who can help you feel better, hold your hand, give a hug, or just listen. I like that I can do that on a nightly basis.”